Paul Anson joined at the start of this chosen because of his success with Inca.
A BRITISH TECHNOLOGY COMPANY WITH A COMPLETELY NEW way of printing has raised almost £2 million in a new round of funding. This will go towards taking the technology from proof of concept stage to field trial products.
The £1.87 million raised from a group of angel investment funds takes backing for LumeJet to £4.5 million, reflecting the interest in the technology and its perceived potential in not just print but broader applications.
LUMEJET IS AN IMAGING SYSTEM WHICH CONTROLS LIGHT in the same way that an inkjet head controls the flow of ink. This means that the technology requires specialist media, currently based on silver halide coated papers or film. Future developments would include imaging to light and energy sensitive polymers coated on to papers, films or other substrates.
The core technology is the LumeJet head which concentrates a 20 micron laser spot into a 1 micron spot using fibre optics. The array of fibres creates the head, currently a hand sized unit, but with the potential to formed into a multiplicity of sizes. It was developed by Dr Trevor Elworthy, formerly from Kodak and whose father John Elworthy had developed the Protocol plate punch.
THE COMPANY IS CURRENTLY HEADED BY PAUL ANSON who joined as CEO this year having been COO of Inca before its sale to Screen. The plan now is to expand and to take on as many as 100 staff at its edge of Coventry premises in the next two years. It aims to build 1000 Lumejet machines in the next five years.
The immediate applications are in ultra short run, ultra high quality printing, presentation documents for high value properties, fund raising, architecture and so on where long runs are not necessary and where the impact of print can be at its highest and price is not a key consideration.
IN SAMPLES SEEN AT DRUPA, THE LUMEJET QUALITY was astounding, compared to Indigo samples of the same stock images. And because the head is tuned to the same size of the individual sliver halide crystals in the film coating, the sharpness cannot be bettered. The technology can produce readable 2pt text reversed out of a four colour image, which Elworthy points out “no other technology can do”.
The success in raising funds in the current climate indicates that others also believe in the technology. Anson says: “Attracting investment to high value manufacturing propositions can be difficult, but our new and existing angel investors see potential of the LumeJet technology. Now we can get on and deliver a digital printing system that will change the market completely for some sectors.”
AS WELL AS PRINT ON PAPER APPLICATIONS, LUMEJET has strong potential in OLED screens, in packaging and labels and in security applications.